MacKeeper has been a sponsor at AppStorm for quite a while now and many of you have probably seen the ads and wondered what the app is all about. Though we are in no way obligated to review the apps of our sponsors, this one is good enough that we wanted to share it with you.
Below we’ll go through the many features and utilities included in MacKeeper and discuss how you can use it to keep your Mac both safe and optimized.
The All-In-One Maintenance Solution
One of the reasons that Macs are so appealing is that they require so little maintenance. Everything “just works” on a Mac and for the most part, will continue to do so for some time to come. However, seasoned Mac users are aware of several possible ways to optimize the performance of their machines and clear off needlessly occupied storage space.
Tasks such as clearing universal binaries, stripping extra languages, removing duplicate files and dumping caches have been traditionally handled by a handful of apps, but lately a few all-in-one solutions have popped up promising to provide nearly all of your Mac maintenance needs in on convenient place.
Very few of these apps are more powerful or thorough than MacKeeper. This excellent piece of software makes complex system management tasks a breeze and even adds a few killer bonus features like security and proper app deletion.
The primary interface of MacKeeper is shown below. It’s very basic and easy for even complete novices to understand.
On the left is a series of functions and categories that affect the content that appears in the middle area. As you can see below, the default section is the Status screen. Here you can see the status of the operations you’ve run. Once you’ve run a few of the functions available in MacKeeper you’ll quickly start to see the benefits add up here.
The various tools and services are divided into four main categories: security, data control, cleaning and optimization. Within these four categories are tons of useful features but overall, these comprise the four primary functions that you will use MacKeeper to accomplish.
The Four Primary Functions
Below we’ll take a look at each of these four categories and the various functions therein.
The security component is an Anti-Theft service that comes bundled with the application (eventually, yearly fees apply). The service is a lot like that of an app I recently reviewed called Hidden.
Basically what the service does is track the location of your Mac in the event that it gets lost or stolen. Using your MacKeeper account, you can log in online from any computer and inform the service that your Mac was stolen.
After this the service will continually check to see if your Mac pops up online. When it does, you’ll receive detailed reports on its location and a phone call informing you how to present the information to the police so you can get your Mac back.
Anti-Theft Service Rundown
Shown above is a handy graphic from the MacKeeper website that sums up the anti-theft service pretty well.
The Data Control component contains five sections: Data Encryptor, Undelete, Shredder, Backup and ZeoDisk.
The Data Encryptor allows you secure files that you don’t want to allow just anyone to have access to. When you add a file to this section and lock it, the file becomes invisible and is only accessible by entering a user-set password in MacKeeper.
This is excellent if you store any sensitive financial or personal data on your machine that could prove harmful if your computer were ever stolen.
The Undelete service is an incredibly useful feature that actually allows you to recover files that may have been recently accidentally deleted from your Mac or any connected storage devices.
To use this feature, simply navigate to the drive you want to recover a file from and hit “Start Scan.” The scan may take awhile due to the scattered nature of the data after a delete operation but eventually you’ll see a list of recoverable files pop up.
Keep in mind that this service isn’t magic and won’t be able to recover any files that were deleted a significant amount of time ago. The more recent the deletion, the more likely MacKeeper will be able to recover the file.
After the end of a lifelong battle with a few oversized adolescent turtles, the Shredder has a new job in the business of deleting Mac files.
As the previous feature proves, deleting a file doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s gone for good. There are plenty of recovery options that allow someone to revive files from your machine even after you’ve emptied your trash.
Deleting files with the Shredder ensures that no data recovery software will ever be able to bring them back. To use it, simply drag in the files that you want to be rid of and say adios.
Just be careful, the point of this feature is to kill files forever so if you accidentally delete something important, you’re screwed.
Backup and ZeoDisk
MacKeeper allows you to run automated backups of your data to the destination of your choice. You can choose from a number of options including another folder on your Mac, an FTP server or a WebDAV server.
ZeoDisk is a backup option that gives you 3GB of online storage. However, this feature has not yet launched and will be coming sometime in the near future.
Even straight out of the box, your Mac can have gigs and gigs of unnecessary clutter eating up precious hard drive space. And after a few months or years of use, the clutter really starts to pile up.
One of the best features of MacKeeper is its ability to easily reclaim your lost HD space by scanning for a the following items: universal binaries, caches, duplicate files, multiple language support files, logs, and old files that you haven’t accessed in a long time.
All of these basically work the same way. You either run one scan that looks for all the unnecessary clutter or click on an individual category to view all the storage that’s being eaten up by particular items of that type. For instance, clicking on the language category will allow you to easily strip additional language support from any or all of the apps that you want.
There’s also a utility for analyzing your overall disk usage and another for properly deleting applications (Wise Uninstaller). The latter of these is something you should use any time you want to delete an app. Simply throwing applications in the trash leaves all kinds of associated files stranded throughout your system. Tools like this automatically collect the scattered files and throw them away together.
The three tools under the optimization category are Update Tracker, Login Items and Default Apps. The Update Tracker is similar to AppFresh in that it automatically checks for updates for installed applications and allows you to quickly and easily download them. Strangely enough though, despite the fact that AppFresh says I have 70 updates available, MacKeeper was unable to find any.
Login Items is essentially the exact functionality you find in System Preferences. Basically, you can decide which applications and services are launched automatically when your computer starts up.
Default Apps is a super useful utility that allows you to quickly view and control the default application for all the file extensions on your machine. This makes it simple to perform tasks like forcing all Word documents to open in Pages or all JPGs to open in Photoshop.
Does it Work?
Aside from the bit of trouble I encountered with the Update Tracker feature, MacKeeper performed excellently. When you really dig in and start using this app it’s hard not to be impressed at just how much functionality they crammed into a single app. Repairing disk permissions is literally the only frequent maintenance-related task I can think of that MacKeeper doesn’t perform.
The data control and optimization features are extremely nice to have, but the cleaning features are really where the app shines for me. Since I work on a MacBook, GBs of storage are a precious commodity and I’m constantly looking for ways to save space.
MacKeeper single-handedly replaced the four or five other apps on my hard drive that I was using to keep caches, languages, binaries, logs, etc. under control.
The UI couldn’t be simpler and there are built-in video tutorials for literally every feature. My recommendation: download the trial and see if you can talk yourself out of spending the forty bucks to get the full version (it won’t be easy).
To sum up, MacKeeper is an incredibly powerful maintenance utility for OS X. The four key areas it covers are security, data control, cleaning and optimization. With it you can do everything from tracking lost Macs and password protecting files to recovering deleted files and freeing up hard drive space.
MacKeeper is really easy for anyone to use and walks you through every step of every feature. MacKeeper licenses are for life but you can optionally subscribe to the theft-protection, customer support and ZeoDisk features.
Also be sure to check out CleanMyMac, a very similar utility with a slick UI and a slightly smaller price tag.